Leslie Sarony

Leslie Sarony (born Leslie Legge Frye; 22 January 1897 – 12 February 1985) was a British entertainer, singer, actor and songwriter.

Leslie Sarony
Leslie Legge Frye

(1897-01-22)22 January 1897
Died12 February 1985(1985-02-12) (aged 88)


Sarony was born in Surbiton, Surrey, the son of William Henry Frye, alias William Rawstorne Frye, an Irish-born artist and photographer, and his wife, Mary Sarony, who was born in New York City.[1] He was christened as Leslie Legge Tate Frye at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham, on 5 May 1898.[2]

He began his stage career aged 14 with the group Park Eton's Boys. In 1913 he appeared in the revue Hello Tango.

In the Great War, Sarony served (as Private Leslie Sarony Frye) in the London Scottish Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Salonika, and was awarded the Silver War Badge.[3]

His stage credits after the war include revues, pantomimes and musicals, including the London productions of Show Boat and Rio Rita.

Sarony became well known in the 1920s and 1930s as a variety artist and radio performer. In 1928, he made a short film in the Phonofilm sound-on-film system, Hot Water and Vegetabuel. In this film, he sang, interspersed with his comic patter, the two eponymous songs – the first as a typical Cockney geezer outside a pub, the second (still outside the pub) as a less typical vegetable rights campaigner ("Don't be cruel to a vegetabuel").

He went on to make recordings of novelty songs, such as "He Played his Ukulele as the Ship Went Down", including several with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra. He teamed up with Leslie Holmes in 1933 under the name The Two Leslies. The partnership lasted until 1946. Their recorded output included such gems as "I'm a Little Prairie Flower".

His song "Jollity Farm" was recorded by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on their 1967 album Gorilla.

Sarony continued to perform into his eighties, moving on to television and films. In the 1970s he appeared in hit programmes including the Harry Worth Show, Crossroads, Z-Cars, The Good Old Days, and The Liberace Show, as well as the famous sitcom Nearest and Dearest. In 1975 he appeared in the first episode of the hard-hitting police drama, The Sweeney, in which he played a police informant known as Soldier in the episode Ringer.

He took over from Bert Palmer as the senile Uncle Stavely ("I heard that! Pardon?") in the fourth and final series of I Didn't Know You Cared in 1979.

In 1983 Sarony appeared as one of a number of elderly insurance clerks in The Crimson Permanent Assurance segment of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. He died in London, aged 88.

His sons are: Neville Sarony QC, a prominent practising barrister and author (The Dharma Expedient) in Hong Kong; Peter Sarony, a successful gunsmith with a business in London; and Paul Sarony is an independent film producer (Mrs Brown, Hideous Kinky, Shine).

Selected filmography


  • "Don't Be Cruel to a Vegetabuel" (1928)
  • "Don't Do That to the Poor Puss Cat" (1928)
  • "Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors" (1928, featured in Jeeves and Wooster)
  • "I Lift Up My Finger (and I Say "Tweet Tweet")" (1929, featured in Jeeves and Wooster and in Mother Riley Meets the Vampire)
  • "Jollity Farm" (1929)
  • "Mucking About the Garden" (1929)
  • "The Alpine Milkman" (1930)
  • "Gorgonzola" (1930)
  • "Icicle Joe the Eskimo" (1931)
  • "Rhymes" (1931)
  • "Jolly Good Company" (A-side Eclipse record No. 122, copyright Campbell, Connelly & Co)
  • "Let's Sing the Song Father Used to Sing" (B-side Eclipse record No. 122, copyright Campbell, Connelly & Co)
  • "Ain't It Grand to Be Bloomin' Well Dead" (1932)
  • "Wheezy Anna" (1933)
  • "Coom Pretty One" (1934)
  • "I Took My Harp to a Party" (Carter-Gay) A-side Rex 8063 A (B-side Why Build a Wall 'Round a Graveyard?) (Sarony) (1934)
  • "The Old Sow (Susannah's a Funniful Man)" 1935
  • "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" (1939)
  • "The Flirtation Waltz" (1952)

"Bunkey-doodle-I-doh" was the B-side of "Jollity Farm" by the International Novelty Orchestra on Zonophone 5513 (pressing no. 30-2138). "Jollity Farm" was pressing no. 30-2139.


  1. The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. "Person Sheet". Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  2. London Metropolitan Archives, Baptisms Solemnized in the Parish of Twickenham (1898), p. 31
  3. Army Medal Office, WWI Medal Index Cards; The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England, Silver War Badge (reference RG WO 329, 2958–3255).
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